push_marketing_vs_pull_marketingThere are lots of different channels available to use as an internet marketer to get targeted traffic. Whether you build a strong social network, create a targeted paid search campaign, or leverage effective content marketing strategies, how you market your site reflects a measure of ROI not only on your investment, but on your time.

In this post I’ll give clear definitions of the two basic marketing types, with the aim of clearly outlining the primary difference between push marketing and pull marketing.

What Is Push Marketing?

Push marketing is the process of reaching out to a potential consumer to try to get them to click onto your site.

This is a broad category of marketing, and includes two of the biggest and most common marketing tactics out there:

  • Paid Search
  • Social Media Marketing

Paid Search Marketing

With Paid Search marketing (think: running a Google Adwords campaign, or placing an ad directly on a relevant site) the onus is on the marketer to constantly source new traffic.

While the time commitment involved in doing this is often low – once you’ve setup your initial campaign it only takes a little time to manage/iterate it – there is a huge financial burden involved, and a direct correlation between your expenses and your traffic.

If you have a high margin product, maintaining this campaign may be a reasonable cost of customer acquisition, but otherwise you could find yourself buying your way into negative returns.

Social Media Marketing

With social media marketing, the biggest resource involved is time – whether yours or an employees. To generate traffic with social media, you have to constantly engage in the conversation that’s happening around your followers, attempting to build trust and community and gain coveted followers. Only after you have followers do you have an opportuntiy to convert those followers to your site.

While Social Media Marketing often sounds appealing because of the “viral effect,” or the ability to tap into not only your own network, but the network of every individual you’re connected to, and all future downstream connections, the reality is that conversion rates from social media tend to be low, and long term, quality fans are difficult to find.

What Is Pull Marketing?

Pull Marketing, on the other hand, is when an individual finds your website because he is actively looking for the material you provide.

Pull marketing, especially content marketing,  has the extreme advantage that it has the potential to become a long term asset for your business. Once established with a strong foundation, a site is more likely to maintain prominence with pull marketing techniques than push marketing techniques.

The disadvantage to pull marketing is the initial time to setup the funnel. It takes significant time to develop a strong pull marketing site, both in terms of time (and/or money) developing high quality content and time-horizon time to begin to rank in search engines over time.

The #1 Difference


Both push and pull marketing can be viable techniques to use to generate traffic and sales on your site, and my aim with this post is not to claim that pull marketing is the be all and end all of internet marketing and should always be used over push marketing techniques.

Instead, my aim is to point out that the primary difference between the two techniques is their sustainability. Push marketing requires a constant investment of resources in order to see result, and there is a direct and immediate correlation between the resources invested and the results. If you stop investing the resource, the traffic stops coming.

Pull marketing, on the other hand, is far more sustainable in the long term. By providing material that the user actively seeks, you position your site to become a fountain of information and authority source in the eyes of your consumer. There is opportunity for the business to scale over time as more users search for the same resource every month.